EMERGING MARKETS-EM assets little changed as holiday calm sets in; Russian rouble firms

* Russian rouble near strongest levels since 2018

* China stocks close higher on stimulus hopes

Dec 24 (Reuters) - Risk assets in emerging markets were flat in light trading on Tuesday, as investors refrained from placing big bets ahead of the Christmas holiday break, while the Russian rouble traded near its strongest level since mid-2018.

Most currencies across the developing world traded in a tight range, while stocks eased slightly. MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks dipped 0.2% and the currencies index was flat.

A preliminary trade truce between the United States and China earlier in the month has helped boost appetite for emerging market assets recently with the currencies index rising for the third straight week last week.

“The market is just a little bit out of gas at the moment. People just want to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s and then get into the flows of the emerging market space,” said Stephen Innes, a market strategist at AxiTrader.

However, some analysts pointed to investors turning mildly risk averse during the holiday season on doubts of how an interim trade deal could work towards resolving the nearly two-year long dispute between the two sides.

Russia’s rouble was a clear outperformer, firming 0.2% against the dollar. The currency has enjoyed support from month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert their foreign currency revenues to meet local duties.

Among other currencies, South Africa’s rand and Turkey’s lira both traded in tight ranges against the dollar.

China stocks on the other hand, closed higher on Tuesday, on hopes that Beijing will roll out more measures to bolster the economy.

Market players do not expect any significant moves from emerging market currencies and stocks, given the light economic calendar through the week and low trading volumes ahead of the new year.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see

For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019, see

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For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

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For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)